Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt came in and immediately shuffled the recruiting board less than two weeks before the early signing period.
The Vols class shrunk to 10 commits at one point and was ranked nationally in the 50s behind programs like Cincinnati. It raised a few eyebrows from the fan base as Pruitt’s staff cut ties with prospects who were happily committed.
Pruitt had a vision of what he wanted from his first signing class as a head coach. He was not going to waver from his plan.
“The most important thing is finding good football players who pass our criteria and things we’re looking for,” Pruitt told SEC Country’s Mike Griffth. “Whether it’s a runner, thrower or defensive player in a short amount of time. We don’t know much about the team we have. So, the best thing we can do is find guys that can pass our evaluations and standard of player we are looking for.”
Pruitt will be running a different offense and defense than the current roster was recruited for. He’s addressed some of those holes with the class already.
Junior college transfers such as tight end Dominick Wood-Anderson and linebacker Jordan Allen fill newly created holes. Wood-Anderson is a blocking tight end which will add flexibility in the running game. He will be a pass-catching threat off the line, too. Allen will play a pass-rushing linebacker in the new 3-4 scheme.
Tennessee’s class now holds 17 commitments with 14 of them already signed. It ranks No. 22 nationally and eighth in the SEC, according to 247Sports, with plenty of room to rise. This is a testament to Pruitt and his staff’s recruiting abilities.
Pruitt credits the brand of the program, though, for the early recruiting success.
“Tennessee sells itself,” Pruitt said. “Tennessee is a national brand. The opportunity to number one get a degree. Every resource is available there for the student athlete at the University of Tennessee. They’re going to be around good people. We’re putting together a staff that’s going to help develop them on the football field. Then after football, the VFL Vol for Life brand is nationally known.”
Pruitt has shown in a short amount of time he can target prospects, build a relationship and secure a commitment.